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COQUILLE — More than 70 Coquille Valley elementary students competed in the 2019 In-school Chess Tournament on Tuesday, Nov. 19, for a chance at a large candy prize and to determine potential players for the Coquille Elementary and Junior High School team to go to state.

The tournament allowed students a chance to see if they like competitive chess.

"Yes, some kids got an excuse to cut classes but it was a sneaky way to help kids discover the joy of chess," said Coquille after-school chess club coordinator Dr. Nancy Keller. "There was definitely a significant increase in the after-school chess club attendance after the tournament."

This year’s school chess champion is fourth-grade student Dane Herker. Dane was undefeated during the five round in school tournament.

"Dane has worked hard at chess club to develop his skills and he was able to beat out the fifth and sixth grade players," Keller said. "He seems to be taking after his older brother Dustin who has reached class C USCF recognition. Watch out for the Herker brothers as Jason is also developing as a strong chess player."

Also undefeated was Noah Ish-Shalom, a home-schooled student who is in the first grade but because of his chess skills, was placed in the older division of third through sixth grade.

Both winners have the potential to become Coquille’s next prodigy chess players, Keller said.

"With the large number of players, Dane and Noah never got paired against each other but it will be interesting to see how they do against each other in chess club," she said.

Third grade and under chess co-champions are Christian Gallagher and Payton Weigand. Noah’s younger brother, preschooler Ari Ish-Shalom, who is also home-schooled, was half a point behind the third grade co-champions.

Chess is a brainy sport that gives students a fun way to develop problem solving skills, sportsmanship and helps increase math and science skills as a result of the thinking process that is involved in chess play, Keller explained.

"Many thank-yous to the Coquille Valley Elementary staff for their support and to chess volunteers Joshua Grabinksy, Frank Morse and Daniel Carter," Keller said.

Coquille Valley Elementary In-school Chess Tournament results:

Sixth grade, first place: Jesus Villegas and Thomas Barbey

Sixth grade, second place: Veronica Reichlein and Grayson Boone

Sixth grade, third place: Shayleen Crawford and Erik Thrash

Fifth grade, first place: Daniel Wilson

Fifth grade, second place: Parker Picking, Gunner Pierce and Carlyn Jennings

Fifth grade, third place: Valorie Lambson and homeschooler Harlan Morse

Fourth grade, first place: Dane Herker

Fourth grade, second place: Tyler Lebron

Fourth grade, third place: Bryson Rhoade

Fourth grade, honorable mention: Jesse King, Raynen Kenison, Ella Henthorn, Loralai Phelps and Gage Wilson.

Third grade, first place: Chistian Gallagher and Payton Weigand

Third grade, second place: Logan Evitts and homeschooler Ari Ish Shalom (technically preschool)

Third grade, third place; Fernando Shawver, Colt Crawford and Skyler Blue

Second grade, first place: Lyric Cagley

Second grade, second place: Bowen Brown, Hunter Wilson and Jack Thomason

Second grade, third place: Dani Pass

Second grade, honorable mention: Emerson Chrocheteire, Ellah Lloyd and Breona Hogan

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